European Championship preview
It is no surprise that only one man in darts has won the European Championship.
Phil Taylor, who has won everything the game has to offer, has been champion of this event the four times it has been held, and it will take something special to deny him a fifth consecutive title in Germany.
The last time we saw the Power on the main stage of a televised event, it was at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, where he narrowly overcame James Wade 18-15 in the final, earlier in the summer.
When it comes to the European Championship, no one has come close to denying Taylor, as the 52-year-old has brushed aside the challenges of his protégé Adrian Lewis twice, former world champion Steve Beaton and Wayne Jones.
In all of those finals, it is the one from last year against Lewis that stands out.
On the same day in the semi-finals, Lewis had beaten Raymond van Barneveld and threw a nine-darter in the process, and he carried on that form into the final, but it was Taylor with that little bit extra to get the job done in a pulsating match, going 11-8 in Taylor’s favour.
Of course winning trophies is what Taylor was built to do, but at this time of year, he only has eyes on one thing, and that is the world championship.
Not since 2010 has Taylor been able to add to his incredible 15 triumphs at the Alexandra Palace, and this time last year, when he swept all before him, he arrived to the worlds full of confidence, but let it all slip as he was surprisingly knocked out in the second round by Dave Chisnall.
To begin this year’s quest for another European crown, Taylor kicks off against Magnus Caris, and in all fairness, Sweden’s No.1 shouldn’t be a problem for the No.1 player in darts to overcome.
We are always looking for challengers to take on Taylor, and the usual suspects will be around this week in Germany.
Back-to-back and reigning world champion Lewis will want to go one better in 2012, but he has a tough first round encounter against fellow Stoke player Ian White- a player who has come on leaps and bounds in the past 12 months.
Wade sits at No.3 in the world, and the man who has taken part in some incredible tussles against Taylor (remember the 2010 Premier League final when Taylor landed two nine-darters?) could be the player to once again take the fight to the Power, but first must not lose to former world No.1 and former World Matchplay Colin Lloyd.
With the top three players having ties they should win, the same can’t be said for some other players in the event.
There is also a difficult clash for five-time champion of the world Van Barneveld, who has been drawn against Terry Jenkins, with Mervyn King up against Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter, and Vincent van der Voort facing talented Belgian Kim Huybrechts.
But, as is always the case, the man to stop is Taylor at an event where he has been supreme.
Whether Scott Waites will win as many world titles as Phil Taylor may not be a matter for debate if only because it is hard to believe anyone matching the Power.
Scott Waites will play Tony O'Shea in the final of the BDO world Championship at the Lakeside Country Club.
The BDO world championship might be the poor relation in the world of darts but it is fashioning a Cinderella story this year.